One of the truisms in pastoral ministry is that ‘politics and religion don’t mix.’ The meaning of that axiom, while poorly worded, is this: The heart of our message to the world is based in the gospel, not politics. That gospel contains ‘bad news’ (which is about us) and ‘good news’ (which is about God). Briefly, it goes like this:
All of us are sinners, separated from a holy God, bound for eternal separation from God in hell (this is bad news). God loves us; His Son Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the dead, and all who believe in Him receive eternal life in heaven (this is good news).
Without a doubt, this is our main message to the world. Our purpose is ‘to know Christ and make Him known.’ Our missions support is focused on this message. Our evangelism outreach is focused entirely on this message.
But notably, most of the Bible isn’t focused on the gospel. Rather, it tells us how to live, what’s right or wrong, and God’s will for creation. The Apostle Paul wrote that events recorded in the Old Testament “happened as examples for us” and “were written for our instruction” (1 Cor. 10.6, 11). The New Testament epistles are filled with exhortation and instruction on pursuing holiness and shunning sin.
Those who are ‘children of God’ (John 1.12), members of His eternal family through faith in Jesus Christ, have a special role to play in this fallen world. We are exhorted to “prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2.15). We are commanded to “not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Ephesians 5.11). Jesus said that His followers should live differently from the world, and that the world would hate us for that (John 15.18-19).
Martin Luther King Jr. described the role of Christians well: “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” While we proclaim God’s love, and good news of forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, we must also stand for God’s truth, especially when our government stands in opposition to it.
This is not a political issue. When politicians oppose God’s truth, they overstep their bounds, and invade God’s turf. They cease to govern within God-given limits, and affront God. When they do, we who are ‘aliens in this world’ through faith in Christ (1 Peter 2.11) are ‘the conscience of the nation.’ As the apostles told leaders who opposed them teaching God’s truth, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5.29). So must we today.
When do we do this? Only when leaders impose laws which are diametrically and intentionally opposed to God’s truth. We should pray for our leaders to govern well, whether they are believers or not. While we desire them to be saved, we do not oppose them simply because they are not. We may not agree with their policies, but as long as they do not explicitly go against God’s law, we submit to them.
However, we cannot support politicians who openly affront God. For example, God has established standards for marriage and sex; if leaders pass laws approving what God condemns, we must not support them. Humans are created in God’s image; our Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If leaders enshrine laws which endorse and celebrate the killing of humans in the womb, we must stand unequivocally for life, and oppose them. We are living in such a day.
Our federal government today, in both the administrative (presidential) and legislative (congressional) branches, is ardently committed to expanding and enforcing views and practices that are diametrically opposed to God’s will. The present administration seeks in every way to increase abortion – the killing of innocent unborn human life. It actively opposes any restrictions on it. It seeks to impose on society sexual perversion, gender fluidity confusion, LGBTQ+ ideology, and Critical Race Theory, all of which is diametrically opposed to the gospel.
As I write, the U.S. Senate is planning a vote on the deceptively-named “Women’s Health Protection Act.” This bill enshrines in federal law the killing of unborn babies up to the moment of birth, and nullifies virtually every limitation on abortion passed by states. The U.S. House passed this bill last September by a vote of 218-211 – only one Democrat voted against it. At least one Democrat in the Senate must vote No to stop it becoming law.
Sadly, some misguided Christians supported these politicians in the last election because of their dislike for the previous president. Frankly, I found him boorish and prideful, but their personal hatred eclipsed their spiritual perspective. They ignored that which affronts God. They voted for candidates who support killing the unborn, and sexual immorality that is an abomination to God. Their political aversion overrode their allegiance to God. As a result, they helped elect a government which aggressively opposes God and His will.
Some Christians focus on politicians or personalities, and some churches go too far by supporting one party or another. As the body of Christ on earth, we must reserve our allegiance first and last, and only, for God. We may prefer a candidate’s or party’s social, economic, or environmental stands more than another, or we may be personally drawn to one candidate more than another. But these considerations must never eclipse the most important issue: Does this political leader or party affront God?
America can no longer be called ‘God’s Country’ (if that moniker ever fit), certainly not to the degree it once was. It was blessed greatly by God in its founding, with many leaders who – whether they were Christians or not – embraced God’s truth in their policies. As a nation we have strayed far from the faith and ideals of our founders. It may well be that our present leadership is part of God’s righteous judgment on us as a nation for our decline into rebellion against Him (see Romans 1.18-32 for an accurate description of our downward spiral).
But may Christians never invite God’s judgment by voting for leaders who oppose His truth in their policies! We stand with God when we refuse to support those who affront Him. Don’t put politics before allegiance to God. In this election season, exercise your precious freedom to vote in a way that honors God, not a political candidate or party. As you consider your vote, keep God’s truth front-and-center. Don’t vote for anyone who supports abortion, gender confusion, marriage perversion, or humanistic theories, or wants to limit freedom to express God’s truth.